Supportive family relationships may mitigate the impact of the Covid19 pandemic on young children's adjustment, but existing work is limited by its focus on within-country variation and parental influences. Addressing these gaps, and drawing on reported buffering effects of older siblings on child mental health (Lawson and Mace, 2010), the current international study examined whether child adjustment problems were, on average, elevated by the pandemic and whether this buffering effect of older siblings would be maintained. In the first wave of the Covid19 pandemic (April to July 2020), 2516 parents of 3- to 8-year-old children living in Australia, China, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States of America—six countries with contrasting governmental responses to the pandemic—completed an online survey about family experiences and relationships and child adjustment, as indexed by ratings on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ: R. Goodman, 1997). As expected, child SDQ total difficulty scores were elevated in all sites except Sweden (which notably did not enforce mass school closures). Compared to children without siblings, children with one or more older siblings showed fewer adjustment problems. Children from lone-parent households displayed more adjustment problems, as did those whose parents reported increased sibling conflict. Finally, child adjustment problems were negatively associated with family socio-economic status, but positively related to the indices of Covid-19 family disruption and government stringency. We discuss these findings in relation to existing work on asymmetric effects of older versus younger siblings, and siblings as sources of support.

Siblings in lockdown: International evidence for birth order effects on child adjustment in the Covid19 pandemic

Ronchi, Luca;Foley, Sarah;Lecce, Serena;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Supportive family relationships may mitigate the impact of the Covid19 pandemic on young children's adjustment, but existing work is limited by its focus on within-country variation and parental influences. Addressing these gaps, and drawing on reported buffering effects of older siblings on child mental health (Lawson and Mace, 2010), the current international study examined whether child adjustment problems were, on average, elevated by the pandemic and whether this buffering effect of older siblings would be maintained. In the first wave of the Covid19 pandemic (April to July 2020), 2516 parents of 3- to 8-year-old children living in Australia, China, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States of America—six countries with contrasting governmental responses to the pandemic—completed an online survey about family experiences and relationships and child adjustment, as indexed by ratings on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ: R. Goodman, 1997). As expected, child SDQ total difficulty scores were elevated in all sites except Sweden (which notably did not enforce mass school closures). Compared to children without siblings, children with one or more older siblings showed fewer adjustment problems. Children from lone-parent households displayed more adjustment problems, as did those whose parents reported increased sibling conflict. Finally, child adjustment problems were negatively associated with family socio-economic status, but positively related to the indices of Covid-19 family disruption and government stringency. We discuss these findings in relation to existing work on asymmetric effects of older versus younger siblings, and siblings as sources of support.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11571/1496976
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